This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Utah business leaders announced Thursday that they have formed a new "public issues committee" (PIC) to raise money and campaign for a sales-tax increase for transportation.
That comes just two days after the Salt Lake County Council decided to put the tax hike on the Nov. 3 ballot. Other counties are expected to follow suit soon and also put the proposal to voters, as authorized by the Legislature this year.
The measure would raise sales taxes by a penny for every $4 spent. In Wasatch Front counties, 40 percent of the money would go to the Utah Transit Authority for bus and train service. The rest would go to cities and counties for local roads.
The new Utahns for Responsible Transportation Investments will be led by Lane Beattie, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber, and Ron Jibson, the chairman, president and CEO of Questar.
"We're prepared, as a business community, to lead out in showing why investing today will save taxpayer dollars tomorrow," Jibson said in a news release.
"Nothing is more important to a strong economy or directly impacts it more than mobility and good transportation infrastructure," Beattie said.
"It's simple: If customers or employees can't get to businesses, they can't do business. If businesses can't get services and goods to their customers, they can't do business. That's why we need voters to support this initiative," Beattie said.
He added that while businesses are cautious about any new taxes, they support this one because state gasoline taxes have not kept up with local needs and cities have deferred many projects and maintenance.
On the other side of the issue, Americans for Prosperity has vowed to continue its fight against the tax increase.
That conservative group tried to stop the initiative at the county level by using mailers, social media and phone calls and even by giving some lucky shoppers $50 gift cards to draw attention to state estimates that the tax would cost $50 per person annually.
Evelyn Everton, state director of the group, said after the county's decision to put the tax hike on the ballot, "We look forward to further educating residents on the cost of tax increases like these. AFP Utah will continue to engage our community to help Utah families keep more of their hard-earned dollars."
Americans for Prosperity started by sometimes controversial businessmen and philanthropist brothers David H. Koch and Charles Koch is formed as a tax-exempt non-profit that is not legally required to disclose its donors or spending.
The new Utahns for Responsible Transportation Investments is formed as a PIC, which is required to disclose donors and expenditures.